Tips for Traveling with a Dog

May 25, 2023

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With summer right around the corner, you may be considering planning a trip with your pup in tow. Bringing them along for the ride can be a less stressful and more cost-effective alternative to leaving them at home or in boarding, which can double your vacation expenses. But as any seasoned traveler knows, hitting the road or taking to the skies with your pooch requires some extra planning.

Whether you're a seasoned pet parent asking "How can I travel with my dog?" or a new parent figuring out the basics of puppy travel, let's explore the best ways to ensure a smooth, tail-wagging journey for everyone involved. Read on to discover our best tips for traveling with a dog.

Choose the Best Mode of Transportation

Choosing the right mode of transportation for your dog is a critical step in your travel planning. Like humans, dogs have their preferences and comfort zones. As a result, your chosen mode of transport can significantly impact everyone’s travel experience.

A cross-country road trip might be a thrilling adventure for a large, curious breed, while a short flight could be the best bet for a smaller or older dog that prefers to snuggle in its carrier. This decision depends on various factors, including the distance you’ll be traveling and your dog's: 

  • Size
  • Age
  • Health
  • Personality
  • Energy level

Just remember: when you're deciding how to travel with a dog, you want your pup to end up at the destination happy and relaxed, and not stressed or fearful.

Tips for Traveling by Car

For those long drives, preparing the car for your dog can make all the difference. Start by choosing a safe, secure space for your dog. A crate or a car barrier can be great options to ensure their safety. If you’re both new to car travel with a dog, make the space inviting by covering the seats with a cozy blanket and securing any loose items that could tumble and startle them. Here are our top picks for car seat covers:

  • Frisco Quilted Front Seat Cover. This non-slip, water-resistant hammock is perfect for long rides in the front seat. With a thick quilted layer, it’s both cozy and machine washable. 
  • Molly Mutt Hammock & Car Seat Cover. This car seat cover is a versatile, dual-purpose accessory that functions as a hammock and a seat protector, with a fun printed design. Designed to safeguard your interior from pet-related messes, it also provides a comfy ride for your pup. 
  • 3 Dog Pet Supply Car Seat Protector. ​​With an easy-to-use seat anchor system, this car seat protector is just like a dog bed for your car. Your dog can relax in the back seat, and you don’t have to worry about any stains on your upholstery. 
  • Shele Quilted Hammock Seat Cover. This durable, quilted cover transforms your car’s backseat into a cozy hammock for pets. It protects the upholstery from hair, dirt, and accidents. 

Throughout the journey, look out for your dog's comfort and well-being. Make frequent stops for bathroom breaks and exercise — a game of fetch at a rest stop can be the perfect energy burner! Keep them hydrated and satiated with water and snacks, but avoid heavy meals to prevent car sickness.

A Golden Retriever sticking its head out of the backseat window of a car.

It’s a little known fact that dogs can experience travel sickness just like humans. If your pup is prone to nausea during long car journeys, we highly suggest consulting your vet before hitting the road. There are several prescription medications and over-the-counter remedies such as Dramamine that can help settle your dog’s tummy during car trips.

Lastly, maintain a calm environment by playing soothing music or using natural anxiety remedies like a vet-approved melatonin supplement or CBD oil.

Tips for Traveling by Plane

Puppy travel by plane can be a bit more complex, but with careful planning, you can ensure a smooth flight. First, check the specific pet policies of the airlines — some are more pet-friendly than others. American Airlines, Delta Airlines, JetBlue Airlines, Spirit Airlines, and Southwest Airlines are all known for having pet-friendly policies, but there are certain requirements to meet. Typically, this can include a health certificate, up-to-date vaccinations, and adherence to size and weight restrictions.

If you're venturing abroad, be prepared for different customs policies. Every country has its own rules and regulations regarding pet travel, so make sure to check everything as far in advance as possible! Carry copies of all records — both physical and digital. It’s better to be safe than sorry when dealing with international pet travel regulations.

Before the flight, prepare your pup’s crate or carrier to ensure maximum comfort. Pack it with their favorite toys and treats and consider calming aids like pheromone sprays or supplements. As always, consult your vet before any long trip or change in routine in case they recommend any supplements for the trip. The best way to travel with a dog starts with lots of preparation.

Tips for Traveling with a Puppy

Traveling with a puppy, while adorable, presents unique challenges. Make their first travel experiences pleasant by preparing a small, secure crate or carrier lined with a comfortable blanket or towel. You can also include chew toys or treats to help them stay calm and entertained.

Understanding how to travel with a puppy is crucial as their needs are a little different from adult dogs — they’ll require more frequent bathroom breaks (every hour or two) and some extra care, which means long-haul flights can be a bigger challenge. If you’re taking them on a road trip, remember to always use a harness and leash when outside the car to prevent any impromptu games of chase.

A woman seated on a train with a Pug in her lap and gingerly holding its front paw.

Lastly, keep your puppy well-fed and hydrated during the trip. Offer small, frequent meals and water breaks to prevent upset stomachs and dehydration. With these puppy travel tips, your little one's first trip will be a tail-wagging success!

Find Pet-Friendly Accommodations

When you're on the road with your pup, finding pet-friendly accommodation is not just a perk — it's a necessity! After all, the best way to travel with a dog is to make sure they feel comfortable with where they rest those paws at the end of the day.

Research Hotels & Rentals

Before booking any hotel, resort, or vacation rental, verify their pet policies. Some accommodation providers may have specific restrictions regarding dog size, breed, or number of pets allowed. You'll need to ask a few important questions such as: 

  • Is there a weight limit?
  • Are there any breed restrictions?
  • Is there a pet fee?
  • Can pets be left in rooms alone?

Some hotels and rentals might state they are pet friendly, but you should always confirm the specifics to make sure they are truly accommodating to your dog. Get confirmation in writing as much as possible! You don’t want to embark on your adventure only to face difficulties once you check in.

Tips for Staying in a Hotel or Rental with Your Dog

Once you've found the perfect pet-friendly accommodation, there are a few strategies to make the stay comfortable for both you and your dog. For example, if you plan to leave your dog unattended in the room, provide the hotel or Airbnb with an emergency contact number.

Keeping your dog calm and quiet in unfamiliar surroundings is vital, so consider bringing along familiar items from home like their bed or a favorite blanket. This can provide a sense of security and help minimize noise and disruptions.

To prevent any possible damage to the room, you might need to crate your dog when you're not present or use a pet gate to block off areas. Also, try to regularly clean up after your dog to maintain a fresh and tidy space.

Tips for Bringing Your Dog Camping

Camping with your dog can be a fantastic bonding experience. However, it's essential to research local camping sites for any pet restrictions or requirements. Check whether they allow dogs, what their leash policy is, and if there are any restricted areas. 

Don't forget to ask if there are any additional fees for bringing a pet. It's always better to know before you get to the campsite! Camping can be a memorable experience for you and your dog, but preparation is key for a pleasant outdoor adventure.

A woman in a beanie, sweater, and jeans caressing the face of a hound dog outside the open flap of a tent in the wilderness.

Locate Dog-Friendly Activities

Once you've settled into your accommodation, it's time to explore and have some fun! Many cities and towns offer a plethora of dog-friendly activities. From local dog parks and hiking trails to welcoming beaches and restaurants, the possibilities are endless when you're traveling with your furry family member.

Researching these options before traveling is key since it will allow you to plan your itinerary around your dog's needs and interests. If you’re headed to Dallas, check out our guide on fun things to do with your pup in Dallas. Whether you're visiting the Lone Star State or elsewhere, you'll be surprised at the number of activities you and your pup can do together.

Part of the joy of traveling with your dog is making new friends — both canine and human. Local dog parents can be a treasure trove of information, and they might even share some hidden gems that aren't listed in traditional guides, so don't hesitate to strike up a conversation at the dog park or a pet store.

The Best Dog-Friendly Activities While Traveling

Dog-friendly activities vary depending on your location, but here are a few universal favorites to consider:

  • Hiking and walking trails. Many U.S. parks have designated dog-friendly trails and paths. Check out some of these dog-friendly hikes in Los Angeles, San Diego, and Dallas. If a road trip is on your itinerary, don't miss our recommendations for dog-friendly National Parks!
  • Dog parks and beaches. These areas allow dogs to socialize and exercise off-leash. Just be aware of any rules or regulations. If you need some ideas, check out this list of dog-friendly beaches in Southern California.
  • Dog-friendly restaurants and cafes. Many places now offer outdoor seating where dogs are welcome, and some even allow dogs inside on a leash. Just remember to call ahead to make sure the establishment is dog friendly before you get there. It’s also important to keep your pup well-behaved and be considerate of other patrons.

A man and a woman petting a Golden Retriever on a beach.

Schedule a Professional Grooming When You Get Back

We hope you find our tips for traveling with a dog useful. It's no secret that traveling with dogs can get a little messy. From romping on dog-friendly beaches to trotting through city parks, your dog can accumulate quite a bit of dirt, debris, and unseen bacteria on their fur and paws. This accumulated dirt can potentially cause skin or coat issues if not addressed promptly. 

Your pup can greatly benefit from a professional grooming session once you return home. Dog grooming is not just about aesthetics either — it also contributes to your dog's overall well-being. Book an appointment with Barkbus and treat your pup to a rejuvenating spa-like experience!


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